Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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Interstate 90 runs through Campbell, Wisconsin, with a speed limit of 65 miles per hour. Two streets and one pedestrian overpass cross the highway within the town. A traffic survey in 2008 found that 23,000-29,000 trucks and cars pass through the town on I-90 every day. The local Tea Party placed banners on the pedestrian overpass, bearing messages such as “HONK TO IMPEACH OBAMA,” leading the town to enact an ordinance forbidding all signs, flags, and banners (other than traffic-control information) on any of the overpasses, or within 100 feet of the end of those structures. The district court rejected a suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 on summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit vacated as to the challenge to the 100-foot buffer zone but otherwise affirmed. The ordinance is content-neutral; it does not matter what message any privately placed sign bears. It is a time, place, and manner limit, permitting messages to be conveyed anywhere else in Campbell. A “state or local legislature that attempts to reduce the incidence of sudden braking on a superhighway cannot be thought to be acting irrationally or trying to suppress speech for no good reason.” The town did not try to justify the buffer zone. View "Luce v. Town of Campbell, Wisconsin" on Justia Law

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Higher Society, a nonprofit advocating for the legalization of marijuana, wants to hold a rally on the steps of the Tippecanoe County Courthouse in Lafayette, Indiana. In 1999, in response to controversy over a nativity scene on the courthouse grounds, the County Board of Commissioners declared the grounds a “closed forum,” so that: Only displays and events sponsored and prepared by a department or office of county government will be allowed in the windows … or on the grounds. The county has previously sponsored art fairs, a rally for the League of Women Voters, an event for the Fraternal Order of Police, and events related to child abuse awareness, “gun sense,” Planned Parenthood, Syrian refugees, and prevention of bullying, but declined to sponsor Higher Society. The organization obtained a preliminary injunction in the district court. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The policy restricts private speech and is not viewpoint-neutral, so it likely violates the First Amendment. View "Higher Society of Indiana v. Tippecanoe County" on Justia Law